Boris Trajkovski Hall
February 27, 2018
Definitely, we live in a world that was envisioned and shaped by the music and aesthetic created by the German band Kraftwerk. Ever since this enigmatic collective rose to popularity in the mid-'70s, it went to fashion a pure electronic aesthetic which encompassed all aspects of modernity. Each of their albums became a complete concept in its own right, from motorways to trains, from radios to computers and showcased the strong relationship between the people and their inventions. Over the years, each new phase was marked by a startling new image, a process which saw Kraftwerk move in the direction of cybernetics, by using actual robots on stage instead. This band's ideas, sounds, and imagination have enriched mine and many people's lives and have taken my senses into wild and uncharted territories of imagination. But to state that they are merely influential would be a colossal understatement. Not only are they responsible for some of the most important innovative electronic music ever made but they have achieved the rarely achievable balance between the experimental and accessible. The band has been decades ahead of everyone about the world we have inherited both musically, visually and technologically, and these visionaries from Dusseldorf have inspired and informed almost every musical shift in music over the last 40 years. Probably they are in the same rank as the Beatles or David Bowie as their work has caused a paradigm shift in contemporary music and culture and has branched out into other areas of life other than music.
The band's work in a live context has been no less groundbreaking and over the years their music and stage design have evolved to reflect this complex, interconnected and ever-changing world that they have predicted and envisioned decades ago. The concert in Skopje was one of the stops on the band's extensive world tour and with it, the concert's organizer kicked the first of several year-long series of concerts named as Taksirat 20. Seeing them for the second time (the first time at the Exit Festival in 2009 in a totally different setting) was a thrill as their music and performance have evolved further and it emphasized the ever-evolving nature and timelessness of their music.
In recent years, the band hasn't published any new material since 2003 with Tour De France Soundtracks
and since then it began touring extensively with a re-arranged material. Firstly, they began with a complete run through of their entire back catalog by performing an album per night in its entirety at such exclusive locations such as MoMA or at Tate Modern. Last year, they released a live album 3-D The Catalogue
which included a box set release consisting of these entire album performances and a 3D video, parts of which were screened during this performance.
What the band performed was Kraftwerk's reimagined classic opus aided by retro-futuristic 3D visuals. The audience was given a pair of 3D glasses to watch the visualizations that adorned the big screen behind the band members. The show opened with various hums, bleeps, and noises before a song was introduced. With the very first sounds of the song "Numbers/Computer World" it was immediately evident whose concert people are attending. There is something instantly recognizable about Kraftwerk's sounds and beats i.e. the character of their sonic identity is one of the things that has always separated them from the lot. The setlist consisted of Kraftwerk's classic songs such as "It's More Fun to Compute / Home Computer," "Computer Love" "The Man-Machine," "Spacelab," "The Model," "Neon Lights," "Autobahn" "Airwaves," "Geiger Counter / Radioactivity," "Electric Café," "Tour De France / Prologue / Etape 1 / Chrono / Etape 2," "Trans Europe Express / Metal on Metal ." The members of Kraftwerk, led by Ralf Hutter, played on neon-lit consoles and wore "Tron-like" neoprene body suits that glowed with LED lights. The four figures stood almost motionless behind their consoles where the equipment was kept hidden from view which in turn added an appealing sense of mystery to the whole event. All of these songs were performed in communion with various visualizations that gave an otherworldly feel to the whole event as the audience was presented with beautifully designed retro images of home computers, trains, flying saucers, autobahns, Volkswagen and Mercedes cars.